Joined: 18 Nov 2009 Posts: 3 Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 5:21 am Post subject:
Eric's famous "100 pound violin tone" is partly due to his equipment and partly due to his technique.
Guitars: Eric most prominently uses Fender Stratocasters. His favorite is a '58 with a maple fingerboard. He has a DiMarzio HS-2 pickup in the bridge position. This is a stacked humbucker. However Eric has the second coil disconnected. So while the second coil isn't contributing to the overall sound, he does believe that the proximity to the other coil lends itself to some hum canceling. Eric has the second tone knob wired to the bridge position (as opposed to the "normal" wiring scheme of having it wired to the middle pickup). With the tone control affecting the bridge pickup, he can dial down the tone for a darker, more "woody" sound. EJ also plays a variety of Gibson guitars including a mid 60's ES-335 (which is owned by Roscoe Beck), a Les Paul (which he used to use all the time in the Electromagnets), and most recently an SG. An example of the 335 can be found on the Alien Love Child album. The Les Paul/SG was featured on Camel's Night Out (Venus Isle album).
Picks & Strings: EJ uses GHS strings (I believe .10's) and Jim Dunlop Jazz III picks. He claims the picks contribute greatly to his sound due to the stiffness and the smooth attack.
Amps: EJ's primarily a Marshall guy. Tones & Ah Via Musicom were recorded with vintage 100 watt Marshall heads going into 4x12 speaker cabinets. I believe the Marshalls had 6L6 power tubes. Not sure about the settings on the amps. I'd have to go back and re-read old issues of Guitar Player for that. He used to use a triple amp set up that consisted of a clean sound (a pair of Fender Twins); a crunch rhythm sound (Marshall); and a lead sound (Marshall or a Dumble Overdrive Special 100). Although rumor has it he hasn't used the Dumble since the 80's. The Marshalls are vintage, non-master volume and do not have very high gain (especially compared to the amps of today). Recent reports say he's using 50 watt vintage Marshall heads and Fender Deluxe Reverb amps.
Effects: EJ uses Echoplexes for the delay sound. He might be using a more modern, more reliable, less maintenance-prone equivalent nowadays. On his clean channel, he uses a T.C. Electronics SCF (stereo chorus/flanger). The distortion/fuzz pedals include a Fuzzface; a BK Butler Tube Overdrive; a Fulltone '69 Pedal. The wah is an old Vox cry-baby. He also uses George L cables.
Pick Attack: EJ's technique incorporates a lot of alternative picking, but with very little pick attack. The result is a very smooth, even sound that's not percussive at all. On the old instructional videos, he discusses an "up and down" pick motion that is cyclic in nature.
Vibrato: One of EJ's characteristic sonic footprints is his vibrato. It is very smooth, not too wide and not very fast. It's got a very singing quality...like a human voice.
Intervallic Playing: EJ's primary improvisational concepts are derived from the pentatonic and blues scales. However he does not simply play box scales. Instead, he plays vertically (playing across the fingerboard in multiple positions), utilizing long phrases and in multiple octaves. He also displaces the notes of the pentatonic scale intervalically so while he's using the same notes, it doesn't come out sounding like a scale. It's very musical and lyrical. He also incorporates a lot of scale sequences.
Speed: One important component of EJ's sound is his speed. He can play incredibly fast passages. And this contributes a lot to the overall sound. Passages played at his speed kinda sound different when played at slower speeds (such as what us mere mortals are capable of doing).
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